So, you've finished writing your manuscript. You've read through it more times than you can count. You're sure it's ready to print. It's time to get an editor. But how do you know who to hire? How do you find an editor you can trust? Here are eight questions that will help you narrow down your search to a few good matches.
1. What's Your Favorite Genre to Edit?
Just because an editor has the technical skills and experience you need doesn't make them the right editor for your book. Try to find an editor whose favorite genre is the one you've written. Editors who specialize in Teen Fiction, for instance, might give a lot of extra time to a young adult thriller and less time and energy to a non-fiction historical manuscript. It's only natural. So find an editor who is genuinely excited about your project.
2. What Style Guide Do You Use?
If you need a book editor, do not hire anyone unless they answer with "The Chicago Manual of Style."
3. How Much Do You Charge?
Some editors charge by the word while others charge by the hour or page. Industry standards vary between $35-$100/hour for editing (depending on how much editing is needed). If they charge per page, know that the industry standard is 250 words/page. If your book has many more words per page, that will likely change the rate.
4. How Do You Edit?
Does the editor prefer to work with Word and Track Changes? Do they like to use Google Docs? Or would they rather edit paper with a red pen? If you want to get paper copies back and they do all their editing on the computer, or vice versa, that might not be a match.
5. Can You Edit Marketing Material?
Once your book is completed, will they edit your website, press releases, or letters to publishers? If so, how much will they charge? If you want to work with the same editor throughout the whole process, this question is very important.
6. How Long Will My Manuscript Take?
While you don't want an editor who will rush through your manuscript just to keep their calendar full, you also don't want one who will take their dear, sweet time and hold up your deadlines. Find out what sort of a turnaround you can expect before you hire anyone.
7. What's Your Availability? Will You Charge Extra For Phone Calls?
You're likely to have questions throughout the process. How available is your editor? If you have a long phone call, will they charge for the time? Can you email them with questions? How long will it typically take them to respond?
8. Can I Get A Style Sheet?
If you intend to write any follow-up books, you might want a style sheet. Essentially, a style sheet is a list of any uncommon phrases, hyphenated words, abbreviations, etc. that the editor came across while editing your book. It's how they track the consistency of your book as they edit. If you want a style sheet, they should be able to provide this.
These questions will help you find the right editor for your book. But remember, the editor/author relationship is like any other relationship. Even if all these answers line up with what you're looking for, you need to also make sure there's a "spark." Not a romantic spark. You want that feeling that you're working with someone you like, someone who will listen to you, and someone who will respect your opinion.
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